Medium: photography, performance
Location: Silicon Valley, United States
Pretty Little Masks is a direct result of my portrait photography commissions between 2007-2009, during which time I ran a commercial photography studio in Silicon Valley. The studio photographer has a unique moral problem today in that the level of perfection required by their job is nearly always an impossibility without using technology to manipulate photographs. The industry standard technique used to create this content involves digitally airbrushing on a “mask” in order to soften facial features, remove unsightly lines and blemishes. This technique creates the unnaturally “perfect” looking skin on every model.
The “Masks” show works to expose the raw, eerie, and sometimes unsightly reality of our obsession with perfection.
This project exposes the process by which photo editors create perfection, transforming this reality into abstract imagery, containing only the airbrushed “mask” on a black background, in effect showing only what has been made perfect about these models.
During the exhibition, musicians turn the facial landscapes into soundscapes, evoking personal reflections and creating an environment that stimulates both visual and auditory senses. I worked toether with Jazz musicians LeLeLe Tres in Japan, and Houston-based experimental woodwind quintet WindSync to perform live improvised soundscape for the exhibitions.
Through this process, the gallery space is filled with a complex and dynamic blanket of live sound using only the musicians’ reactions to the artwork, and conceptual notes from the artist.
During the show, audience members have the opportunity to ‘pose’ for a commercial portrait session and watch as their likeness used to demonstrate digital airbrushing techniques. Audience members who participate receive a printed copy of their own ‘Pretty Little Masks’ after the demonstration.
2010 – Yokohama, Japan
BankART 1929 / CreativeCity Center
2011 – San Jose, United States
2012 – Incheon, South Korea
Sanmaeul High School (lecture)